Skip to main content

Traces of a possible Celtic brewery in Eberdingen-Hochdorf, Kreis Ludwigsburg, southwest Germany

Abstract

A large number of weakly germinated hulled barley grains was found during archaeobotanical analyses from the early Celtic settlement excavations at Eberdingen-Hochdorf in southwest Germany (ca. 600 – 400 BC). These grains seem to represent deliberate germination, due to the purity of the find and its unusual archaeological context. The possibility of deliberate malting which could be connected with beer brewing is discussed. Recent germination and charring experiments show that the consistently weak traces of germination on the charred subfossil grains from Hochdorf are enough to indicate malted grains. A comparison of the archaeobotanical remains with the written and archaeological sources shows that evidence of beer brewing from excavations is very scarce. There is practically no clear proof of brewing, while written sources and indirect suggestions are abundant. Neither archaeological finds nor either written or iconographic sources give exact details about the prehistoric brewing technology of the early Celts. The archaeological finds from Hochdorf seem to be the result of deliberate malting of hulled barley for the purpose of Celtic beer brewing.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Behre KE (1984) Zur Geschichte der Bierwürzen nach Fruchtfunden und schriftlichen Quellen. In: Zeist W van, Casparie WA (eds) Plants and ancient man, studies in palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 115–122

    Google Scholar 

  2. Biel J (1992) Weitere Grabungen in Eberdingen-Hochdorf, Kreis Ludwigsburg. Archäol Ausgr Baden-Württemberg 1991: 97–102

    Google Scholar 

  3. Düll R, Kutzelnigg H (1994) Botanisch-ökologisches Exkursionstaschenbuch, 5. edition. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hegi G (1964) Illustrierte Flora von Mitteleuropa, vol 5.4. Hanser, München

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hopf M (1976) Bier. In Hoops J (founder) Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde, 2nd edn. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp 530–533

    Google Scholar 

  6. Jacomet S, Brombacher C, Dick M (1989) Archäobotanik am Zürichsee. Ber Zürcher Denkmalpfl Monogr 7

  7. Körber-Grohne U (1981) Pflanzliche Abdrücke in eisenzeitlicher Keramik — Spiegelbild damaliger Nutzpflanzen? Fundber Baden-Württemberg 6: 165–211

    Google Scholar 

  8. Körber-Grohne U (1985) Die biologischen Reste aus dem hallstattzeitlichen Fürstengrab von Hochdorf, Gemeinde Eberdingen (Kreis Ludwigsburg). Forsch Ber Vor- Frühgesch Baden-Württemberg 19: 85–265

    Google Scholar 

  9. Körber-Grohne U (1991) Identification methods. In: Zeist W van, Wasylikowa K, Behre KE (eds) Progress in Old World palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 3–24

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lenz HO (1859) Botanik der alten Griechen und Römer. (1966 reprint), Sändig, Wiesbaden

    Google Scholar 

  11. Maksoud SA, El-Hadidi MN, Amer WM (1994) Beer from the early dynasties (3500–3400 cal B.C.) of Upper Egypt, detected by archaeochemical methods. Veget Hist Archaeobot 3: 219–224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Piening U (1988) Verkohlte Pflanzenreste aus zwei römischen Gutshöfen bei Bad Dürkheim (Pfalz). Forsch Ber Vor-Frühgesch Baden-Württemberg 31: 325–340

    Google Scholar 

  13. Rötzer S (1993) Museen in Regensburg. Lankes & Spaan, Regensburg

    Google Scholar 

  14. Samuel D (1996) Archaeology of ancient Egyptian beer. Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists 54(1): 3–32

    Google Scholar 

  15. Tabernaemontanus JT (1731) Neu vollkommen Kräuterbuch. Basel

  16. Zeist W van (1991) Economic aspects. In: Zeist W van, Wasylikowa K, Behre KE (eds) Progress in Old World palaeoethnobotany. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 109–130

    Google Scholar 

  17. Zöller H (1995) Massalia — griechische Handelspartner der Kelten. Mainfränkisches Heft 93: 46–47

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stika, HP. Traces of a possible Celtic brewery in Eberdingen-Hochdorf, Kreis Ludwigsburg, southwest Germany. Veget Hist Archaebot 5, 81–88 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00189437

Download citation

Key words

  • Sprouted barley
  • Brewery
  • Late Hallstatt/Early La Tène
  • Germination experiments
  • South-west Germany